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EU agriculture threatened by looming CETA trade deal

The EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade Agreement (CETA) puts EU agriculture and the environment, as well as democratic institutions, at risk.

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Editor’s note: The following article is published verbatim from France’s Pardem (Parti de la démondialisation) and concerns the pending EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic Trade AGreement (CETA), currently in the works between the European Union and Canada. While the article references France, the concerns it raises are also of direct relevance to Greece and to Greek farming, agriculture, and Greece’s environment.
As stated in the article which follows, it only takes one EU member-state to veto this agreement. Will Cyprus or Greece — where Monsanto’s RoundUp was just licensed by the SYRIZA-led “radical leftist” government — be the countries to stand up to this trade deal? One would think not.


French MPs and Senators will have to vote for or against the CETA (Treaty between Canada and the European Union) during the second half of 2018.
Let’s rise up so that MPs and Senators vote NO TO THE CETA – a free-trade agreement between Canada and the European Union
Only one EU Member-State is needed to vote against to make null and void this treaty which is extremely harmful to our agricultures and cattle-raising farms, for our populations health, for our jobs, for the environment in terms of greenhouse gases production, for democracy.
French agriculture endangered and increased risks for everyone’s health
The CETA is an international agreement that heavily threatens French peasants and presents very real risks for the quality of our food and our food sovereignty.
A study made by the Institut de l’Elevage (Institute for Cattle Raising) and INTERBEV (Interprofessional Union for Cattle and Meat) shows that an increase of 200,000 tons/year of zero-rated imports of Northern American beef meat to Europe would have severe consequences. Such increase would generate a 40% to 50% reduction of income for the French beef farmers, and a loss of 50,000 jobs in the related sector (30,000 farming jobs and 20,000 jobs among the downstream industry for stakeholders such as slaughterhouses, butcheries, etc). At the same time, this destruction of jobs and added value would cause a decline in pastures and grasslands benefiting field crops which would release tons of greenhouse gas. With the increase of 50,000 tons for the Canadian quota, the CETA impact only would be a little less brutal, but enough to send the beef industry into an even more serious crisis.
The CETA increases also the import quota of Canadian pork considerably, as it is now without any Customs duties. From about 6,000 tons/year (in carcass weight) charged between EUR 0.233/kg to EUR 0.434/kg, the quota would gradually reach 81,000 tons/year… with a zero-rated tariff. Like for beef meat, Canada does not use its full export quota – it exported « only 2,328 tons » of pork to the EU in 2014 – because of the European prohibition of ractopamine, a non hormonal growth additive largely used for more than 20 years in Canada. But even if that prohibition (a « non tariff » barrier) resisted the future regulation, the new quota could be enough to encourage a production of « ractopamine-free pork » for the EU market. The production cost of « ractopamine-free pork » by Canadian cattle farms is about EUR 0.35/kg inferior to the average production cost within the EU : the sole creation of a zero-rated tariff quota within the CETA would make Canadian pork competitive on the European market. Canada is the third pork exporter in the world in 2013 (behind the US and the EU) and already exports almost half of its production : it has the commercial infrastructure to conquer this new market, to the detriment of European pork farmers, in particular French pork farmers. And like for beef meat, getting that quota will set a dangerous precedent which American negotiators could use now for the TAFTA (Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement).
It will be much more profitable for industrials who claim they export French know-how, to establish themselves in Canada (which they manage to do nowadays but with difficulties) and to collect the milk produced by Canadian peasants, in order to feed it into the « French » production lines (yogurt, cheese, etc.)
Such strategy is not new : firms like Lactalis, Bel and Danone are already well established abroad and they produce French branded products locally. The agreement on dairy products will benefit the agri-business – all the more so as Chapter 8 that defines protection conditions for foreign investments, is particularly favorable to it – but not European and Canadian dairy farmers who are played off to the benefit of a concentration and an industrialization of production.
Detrimental consequences on employment
In general, opening borders results in increased unemployment for the workers employed in competing sectors. These workers do not manage to retrain as their skills become obsolete. Unskilled workers in rich countries, in competition with emerging countries labor force, see their employability decrease, which compels them to accept lower wages or poorer working conditions. Such opening of borders also allows the wealthiest individuals and big corporations to evade taxation thanks to fiscal optimization.
The CETA degrades climate and increases greenhouse gas emissions (GHG)
The expert committee – called for and implemented by Emmanuel Macron – has just recognized that « climate is the great absentee from the treaty ». It asserts that the CETA impact on climate will be negative as far as greenhouse gas emissions are concerned.
The CETA remains a classical free trade and investment agreement. It translates the refusal by its promoters (the European Union and Canada) to adapt it to the great global challenge of this early 21st century that is climate warming.
Neither the preamble or the CETA chapters do mention the climate emergency explicitly. Neither can be found herein goals to reduce GHG emissions, or general objectives aiming to « decarbonize » the economy. It does not mention the commitments from the EU and Canada taken during international negotiations on climate warming.
Even worse, according to the European Commission « sustainability » impact study published in June 2011, the CETA effect on greenhouse gas emissions is very real. As a matter of fact, the CETA shall result in an increase in European investments in oil extracted from oil sands (1), which emits greenhouse gas three times more than conventional oil production, as well as in big oil infrastructure projects which should allow to export that very same oil.
Despising democracy
The CETA has been provisionally applied while the citizenry or the national Parliament have not been consulted, even though the majority of French MEPs has voted against it – which constitutes a serious denial of democracy. The democratic process is also threatened by two new mechanisms set up by the CETA. On one hand, arbitration courts – which are a privatized justice questioning the States lawmaking abilities, and therefore questioning democracy (and to sentence States to pay huge indemnities to multinational firms). On the other hand, the various harmonization processes for standards, which will allow Canadian and European administrations in charge of trade, to influence health, industrial and environmental standards upstream the lawmaking process. Such tools will be available for big corporations to further their interests and influence elected officials at the local, national and European levels.
The hegemony of commercial law is therefore a front assault against the peoples’ ability to choose to live in more sovereign, more solidary, more human and fairer societies.
Notes :
(1) The petrol extracted from oil sands is one of the dirtiest in the world. The extraction process is complicated and most polluting. During such process, methane, whose greenhouse effect is at least 20 times more powerful than CO2, and sulphur dioxide, responsible for lake and forest acidification, are released into air. The outcome is that extracting one oil barrel from the Alberta oil sands, produces at least three times more greenhouse gas than a conventional oil production process.

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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Greece: “Humanitarian Aid” Organization’s People-Smuggling

Greek NGO evidently received 2,000 euros from each illegal immigrant it helped to enter Greece.

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Authored by Maria Polizoidou of Gatestone Institute:


  • Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) describes itself as a “Greek nonprofit organization that provides emergency response and humanitarian aid in times of crisis….” It has reportedly abetted the illegal entry into Greece of 70,000 immigrants since 2015, providing the “nonprofit” with half a billion euros per year.
  • ECRI evidently received 2,000 euros from each illegal immigrant it helped to enter Greece. In addition, its members created a business for “integrating refugees” into Greek society, granting it 5,000 euros per immigrant per year from various government programs (in education, housing and nutrition).
  • With the government of Greece seemingly at a loss as to how to handle its refugee crisis and safeguard the security of its citizens, it is particularly dismaying to discover that the major NGO whose mandate is to provide humanitarian aid to immigrants is instead profiting from smuggling them.

Migrants arrive at a beach on the Greek island of Kos after crossing part of the Aegean sea from Turkey in a rubber dinghy, on August 15, 2015. (Photo by Milos Bicanski/Getty Images)

On August 28, thirty members of the Greek NGO Emergency Response Centre International (ERCI) were arrested for their involvement in a people-smuggling network that has been operating on the island of Lesbos since 2015. According to a statement released by Greek police, as a result of the investigation that led to the arrests, “The activities of an organised criminal network that systematically facilitated the illegal entry of foreigners were fully exposed.”

Among the activities uncovered were forgery, espionage and the illegal monitoring of both the Greek coastguard and the EU border agency, Frontex, for the purpose of gleaning confidential information about Turkish refugee flows. The investigation also led to the discovery of an additional six Greeks and 24 foreign nationals implicated in the case.

ERCI describes itself as:

“[A] Greek nonprofit organization that provides emergency response and humanitarian aid in times of crisis. ERCI’s philosophy is to identify the gaps of humanitarian aid and step in to assist in the most efficient and impactful manner. Currently ERCI has 4 active programs working with refugees in Greece in the areas of Search and Rescue, Medical, Education and Refugee Camp Coordination.”

In spite of its stated mission and non-profit profile, however, ECRI — according to Greek authorities, has earned considerable sums of money from its serving as a conduit for illegal activities. ECRI evidently received 2,000 euros from each illegal immigrant it helped to enter Greece. In addition, its members created a business for “integrating refugees” into Greek society, granting it 5,000 euros per immigrant per year from various government programs (in education, housing and nutrition). ERCI has reportedly abetted the illegal entry into Greece of 70,000 immigrants since 2015, providing the “non-profit” with half a billion euros per year.

This revelation, however, does not begin to cover the extent of the illegal activities surrounding the entry of migrants into Greece. In 2017, for instance, Greek authorities arrested 1,399 people-smugglers, some under the cover of “humanitarian” operations; and during the first four months of 2018, authorities arrested 25,594 illegal immigrants.

More worrisome than the literally steep price paid to people-smugglers by the immigrants themselves — or that doled out by the Greek government in the form of integration subsidies — is the toll the situation is taking on Greek society as a whole.

According to Greek police statistics, there were 75,707 robberies and burglaries reported in 2017. Of these cases only 15,048 were solved, and 4,207 were committed by aliens. In addition, the police estimate that more than 40% of serious crimes were committed by illegal immigrants. (Legal and illegal immigrants in Greece make up 10-15% of the total population.)

In 2016, Greek prisons reportedly contained 4,246 Greeks and 5,221 foreigners convicted of serious crimes: 336 for homicide; 101 for attempted homicide; 77 for rape; and 635 for robbery. In addition, thousands of cases are still pending trial.

In a recent heart-wrenching case on August 15, a 25-year-old college student from Athens — on a visit home from his studies at a university in Scotland — was murdered by three illegal immigrants while he was out touring the city with a female friend from Portugal.

The three perpetrators, two Pakistanis and an Iraqi ranging in age from 17 to 28, told police that they first attacked the young woman, stealing money, credit cards, a passport and a cell phone from her purse, but when they realized that her phone was “old,” they went for the young man’s phone, threatening him with a knife. When he tried to fend them off, they said in their confession, they shoved him and he fell off a cliff to his death. After the interrogation, it transpired that the three killers were wanted for 10 additional robberies in the area.

In an angry letter to Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, members of parliament and the mayor of Athens, the mother of the victim accused Tsipras of “criminal negligence” and “complicity” in her son’s murder.

“Instead of welcoming and providing “land and water” to every criminal and dangerous individual with savage instincts,” she wrote, “should the state not think first of the safety of its own citizens, whose blood it drinks daily [economically]? [Should the state] abandon [its citizens] to ravenous gangs, for whom the worth of a human life has less meaning than the value of a cell phone or a gold chain?”

Although those were the words of a grieving mother, they are sentiments widely felt and expressed throughout Greece, where such incidents are increasingly common.

On August 29, two weeks after that murder, six immigrants in northern Greece verbally assaulted a 52-year-old man on the street, apparently for no reason. When he ignored them and kept walking, one of them stabbed him in the shoulder blade with a 24-cm (9.4-inch) knife, landing him in the hospital.

Two days earlier, on August 27, approximately 100 immigrants, protesting the living conditions in their camp in Malakasa, blocked the National Highway for more than three hours. Drivers stuck on the road said that some of the protestors went on a rampage, bashing cars with blocks of wood. To make matters worse, police on the scene said that they had not received instructions from the Ministry of Citizen Protection to clear the highway or protect the victims. Gatestone was told upon further queries, that there was no official statement from the police or the ministry, just the drivers’ statements.

With the government of Greece seemingly at a loss as to how to handle its migrant crisis and safeguard the security of its citizens, it is particularly dismaying to discover that the major NGO whose mandate is to provide humanitarian aid to immigrants is instead profiting from smuggling them. The recent arrest of ERCI members underscores the need to scrutinize all such organizations.

Maria Polizoidou, a reporter, broadcast journalist, and consultant on international and foreign affairs, is based in Greece. She has a post-graduate degree in “Geopolitics and Security Issues in the Islamic complex of Turkey and Middle East” from the University of Athens.

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Turkey’s Latest Power Grab: A Naval Base In Cyprus?

“If Greek-Turkish tensions escalate, the possibility of another ill-timed military provocation could escalate with them… Moreover, such a conflict might open up an even greater opportunity for Russian interference.” — Lawrence A. Franklin.

The Duran

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Authored by Debalina Ghoshal via The Gatestone Institute:


  • The possibility of a Turkish naval base on Cyprus does not bode well for the chances of a Cyprus reunification deal, particularly after the breakdown of the July 2017 peace talks, which were suspended when “Turkey had refused to relinquish its intervention rights on Cyprus or the presence of troops on the island.” Turkey has 30,000 soldiers stationed on Cyprus, the northern part of which it has illegally occupied since 1974.

Turkey’s Naval Forces Command has “submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that Turkey should establish a naval base in the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” according to Turkey’s strongly pro-Erdogan daily, Yeni Safak, which recently endorsed the proposal for the base in an article entitled, “Why Turkey should establish a naval base in Northern Cyprus.”

“The base will enable the protection of Northern Cyprus’ sovereignty as well as facilitate and fortify Turkey’s rights and interests in the Eastern Mediterranean, preventing the occupation of sea energy fields, and strengthening Turkey’s hand in the Cyprus peace process talks.”

Having a naval base in northern Cyprus would also strengthen the self-proclaimed “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus,” which is recognized only by Turkey. Cyprus is strategically important: a naval base there would give Turkey easier access to the Eastern Mediterranean’s international trade routes and greater control over the vast undersea energy resources around Cyprus. In the past, Turkey has blocked foreign vessels from drilling for these resources; in June, Turkey began its own exploration of the island’s waters for gas and oil.

This is not the first time that Turkey has set its sights on the area’s resources. In 2014, Ankara dispatched surveillance vessels and warships to Cyprus’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) to search for hydrocarbons. This incident took place just before the leaders of Greece, Cyprus and Egypt deepened their an energy-cooperation, “freezing Turkey out.” As soon as the accord was signed, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades blasted “Turkey’s provocative actions,” saying that they “do not just compromise the peace talks [between Greek and Turkish Cypriots]… [but] also affect security in the eastern Mediterranean region.”

At the time, UN-brokered reunification negotiations, which had been renewed after a long hiatus, ended unsuccessfully yet again, as a result of Turkey’s search for hydrocarbons in the EEZ. According to a November 2014 report in the Guardian:

“Turkey’s decision to dispatch a research vessel into disputed waters last month not only resulted in talks being broken off but has exacerbated the row over drilling rights.”

The possibility of a Turkish naval base does not bode well for the chances of a Cyprus reunification deal, particularly after the breakdown of the July 2017 peace talks between Turkish-Cypriot leader Mustafa Akinci and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades. The talks were suspended when “Turkey had refused to relinquish its intervention rights on Cyprus or the presence of troops on the island.” Turkey has 30,000 soldiers stationed on Cyprus, the northern part of which it has illegally occupied since 1974.

Another factor that may be contributing to the Turkish Navy’s desire for a base in Cyprus is Israel. Aside from Ankara’s extremely rocky relations with Jerusalem, Israel and Cyprus have been working to forge an agreement to join their electricity grids and construct a pipeline to link their gas fields to mainland Europe. Although they are in a dispute over development rights of one of these gas fields, Aphrodite, they are invested in reaching a solution that will not damage their increasingly friendly relations.

Erdogan’s considerations should concern NATO, of which Turkey, surprisingly, is still a member, and the rest of the West. As Lawrence A. Franklin recently wrote for Gatestone:

“If Greek-Turkish tensions escalate, the possibility of another ill-timed military provocation could escalate with them. The ability of NATO to respond to other conflicts in the area could be affected, as well as NATO air and naval assets based in both countries. Moreover, such a conflict might open up an even greater opportunity for Russian interference.”

Debalina Ghoshal, an independent consultant specializing in nuclear and missile issues, is based in India.

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